This month blogger and lifestyle and fashion photographer Emily Dahl takes the time to chat with The Local Sweden about the benefits and drawbacks of being an influencer, her predictions for upcoming trends in blogging – and her undying love for George Michael.
Based in Stockholm, she has created a 'visual diary' of her life, experiences and creative work which can be read here.
Hi, Emily! Your blog has evolved as real mixture of your work as a photographer, your day-to-day life and your personal thoughts and feelings – you even call your blog your 'visual diary'. How did you first start out with the blog?
Well, I've been blogging for over a decade, so back in 2006 when I first started my blog the whole field was so different. The influencer sphere just didn't exist – lots of people thought that it wasn't a profession, that the industry wasn't going to go anywhere, but for me, it started a whole business! I'm really happy I stuck with it. Initially it started when I lived in Gothenburg – I had just graduated and was between jobs, so starting a blog was a perfect creative outlet for me. It allowed me to build a portfolio and my blog grew organically from there.
Your blog is very visual – unsurprising, as you're a photographer. Which sources do you look to for inspiration?
I try to find inspiration away from the internet. I find that what stunts my inspiration is being in a place where social media takes over my life – when you find yourself refreshing Instagram, for example – so, to keep creative, I've really cut down on my screen time. Instead, I tend to go to outlets that inspired me from the beginning, even from my childhood; movies that I used to watch as a kid, like old classic Hollywood movies. I love going back to the truest roots of my creativity, it's like an avalanche of inspiration. At the moment, listening to George Michael's music helps me come up with new ideas!
George Michael is definitely a more-than-acceptable inspiration. What do you enjoy most about being a blogger?
Oh, I love so many parts of being a blogger – as well as the fact that I owe my whole company and world to blogging, I also have a circle of colleagues and friends from blogging who are very close to me. Blogging through the formative years of my life has meant that I'm incredibly close to a whole community of people who have been through so much with me. They understand the journey that I've been on and we've all got lots of shared experiences.
What's really special, too, is the wealth of opportunities – the shows, the lectures, the people you're able to meet. Without my followers, none of this would be possible; I wouldn't be able to travel, have my business, keep my assistants paid. It's all made possible by my followers and I appreciate it every day.
Are there any downsides to running a blog?
It can be challenging making sure your blog is aligned with your ethos. My blog used to be a lot bigger than it is today, but I made the conscious decision to rebuild everything from the ground up about six months ago. I've gone through the revolution and evolution of blogging and got to a point where I realized I was keen to shift the focus away from me as a central character. For a long time, blogging was about 'what I wore today', 'what I ate today' and now for me it became more important to look more widely at my individual vision. The emphasis for me now is how can I keep my blog an open, creative – and positive – space.
Which topics/types of blog content have you found that Swedish audiences most like to read about?
Tastes and trends are always shifting and developing. For a long time, everyone wanted to look at food posts, at imagery around beautiful and creative meals, but lately landscape photography is having a moment. Swedish audiences, in particular, respond really well to beautiful wildlife scenery shots – it all ties into the rise in popularity of drone photography, allowing us to see really clear shots of aspirational settings.
My audience responds well to anything that suggests an adventure, a getaway. People want escapism – the exact nature of it all comes down to the zeitgeist, what's in vogue at the moment.
In terms of 'the Next Big Thing' in blogging, I feel like black and white photography is about to have a resurgence. You heard it here first! We've had so long of analogue, black and white has fallen away over the past decade, but there's now a whole generation of millennials who are discovering monochrome imagery and will bring it back. I'd say that that'll be the next trend to watch!
Do you have any blogs that you personally read and find aspirational?
So many blogs! There's Emma's Vintage – Emma's a stylist I work with on a daily basis; I read her blogs to open my eyes up to new ways of looking at the everyday. She's incredible at that, at taking the small things in daily life and making them feel special. She used to be a journalist so she's learnt her craft professionally and you can really feel that in her blog.
There's also Sandra Beijer – she's very good at finding new ways of telling a story and making the unremarkable enticing. She has a knack for that, she started in the advertising industry and she has kept loyal to her own voice.
Do you have any advice you might give to aspiring influencers?
It's really important to sit down and think about 'what do I enjoy?'. If you do something you enjoy doing you'll do it with passion. It's best to start with that at your base; know that everything you do, if you do it with determination, it will all work out. Nothing is wasted, even if it feels like it at the time – writing you've done years ago can still be relevant. Take advice from yourself, listen to yourself – and most of all, be true to yourself!